MERALCO turned to Allen Durham down the stretch as it outlasted Mahindra, 86-83, to clinch a postseason berth in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Durham scored the go-ahead basket within the last minute before the Bolts shrugged off a few late miscues to escape with the victory that also assured them of a playoff for the last Top Four spot that comes with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
The Bolts finished the eliminations with a 6-5 win-loss record to tie the Enforcer, who bungled three chances of clinching a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals after suffering their third straight loss.
“It’s nice to win a close game for a change,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “This was a little bit scary, but the ball bounced our way today and that’s what matters.”
The Bolts are waiting for Phoenix or either Alaska or NLEX, teams that can still end up with a 6-5 win-loss card, as the opponent they will face in the playoff for the fourth spot that stakes the last win-once incentive.
“We’ll sit back to know who our opponent is,” said Black, who won his 600th game as a head coach in the league.
Durham finished with 34 points, none more important than the last two off turnaround short jumper over Aldrech Ramos with 46.5 seconds left that put the Bolts up for good at 84-83 after the Enforcer engaged them in a see-saw battle in the endgame.
The shot by the prolific Meralco import negated a shot by Mahindra counterpart James White in a previous possession that put the Enforcer ahead after trailing by as many as 13 points earlier in the game.
Durham completed another solid effort with 17 boards, three blocks, one steal, and one assist in 39 minutes, while Jared Dillinger added 12 points and eight rebounds.
MERALCO 86 – Durham 34, Dillinger 12, Newsome 10, Hugnatan 9, Alapag 7, Amer 4, Hodge 3, Uyloan 3, Faundo 2, Nabong 2, Al-Hussaini 0
MAHINDRA 83 – White 27, Ramos 17, Revilla 12, Yee 9, Taha 8, Aguilar 4, Guinto 2, Digregorio 2, Agovida 2, Mandani 0, Webb 0, Galanza 0, Bagatsing 0, Ballesteros 0, De Vera 0
Quarterscores: 25-22, 50-45, 71-62, 86-83